One glue, (almost) all purposes

All-purpose glue: One glue to bind them all?

The term “all-purpose glue” implies you can use them for any project you like. While these multi-purpose glues are indeed suited for a wide range of applications, no one product is perfect for every single DIY job out there. This guide tells you what you need to know and how to use these adhesives.

All-purpose glue properties and applications

The clear advantage of buying all-purpose glues is that they are usable for so many applications. Some all-purpose adhesives are even capable of jobs ranging from repairing small household goods to constructing industrial-sized objects like wind turbines and ship decks.

Nonetheless, not all universal glues are created equal. Read the fine print in the product details to make sure the general-purpose glue you’ve selected really is the best all-purpose glue for your project. For example, Loctite Extreme Glue is a true all-purpose glue, suitable for a variety of repair, craft, and building jobs. Use this multi-purpose glue without wrestling with clamps and foam, as with some other glues. However, even though this Loctite all-purpose glue is compatible with many porous and non-porous materials, it is not suitable for use on polyethylene or for water immersion.

How to use all-purpose glue

Always keep safety in mind. Wear gloves, wash your hands, protect your work area, and use your general-purpose glue in a well-ventilated area.

Prepare your surfaces. The surfaces you want to bond must be sound, dry, and clean. Remove any residue and contaminants with a solvent like alcohol or acetone after you have tested the solvent’s compatibility with your substrate. Lightly sand any glossy or very smooth surfaces to improve adhesion. If necessary, mask off adjacent areas with tape before applying glue. If you are bonding two non-porous surfaces, you may need to dampen them slightly before applying universal adhesive.

Pre-fit. Pre-fit all materials before applying your all-purpose glue to make sure your pieces align properly.

Apply the all-purpose glue. Open your all-purpose adhesive and apply a thin layer to one surface. Hold or clamp the parts in place before skin formation for the length of time stated in the product instructions. Allow your multi-purpose adhesive to cure completely before subjecting it to stress.

The amount of all-purpose glue you need depends not only on the size of the gap but also on substrate porosity. Generally speaking, the more porous your substrate, the more adhesive you require. You may also need to apply it to both surfaces.

Clean-up. Close your all-purpose glue tube/container immediately after you are done. Then clean your tools and any adhesive residue using the proper solvent (alcohol, acetone, or cleaner’s naptha). You can carefully cut away cured multi-purpose adhesive using a sharp-edged tool.

Storage. Store your all-purpose glue in a dry, cool place with little humidity and no frost. The manufacturer’s instructions will tell you anything else you need to note.